Unresolved Symptoms from Physical Injury
Sometimes, after an event that causes physical injury (e.g. a car crash, a motorcycle accident, sports injury), you can have physical symptoms that go beyond the physical trauma. They include:
- Anxiety, fear
- Inability to sleep; or incessant fatigue
- Dizziness, nausea, unstable gait
- Weight gain
These symptoms of trauma are often the result of highly activated, incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. The body has not completed its response to the event and stress of impact is held in the nervous system.
Tell me more?
Somatic Experiencing is an approach that was developed by Dr. Peter Levine, based upon the observation that wild prey animals utilize innate mechanism to regulate/discharge high levels of energy arousal associated with defensive survival behaviors.
Human are born with similar regulatory mechanisms as animals. But these mechanisms are often over-ridden by the rational part of the brain, preventing complete discharge of survival energies. The result is a nervous system stuck in survival mode.
Instead of being stuck in a loop of either reliving the accident or dissociating from the accident, Levine’s model involves employing subtle awareness of body sensation to help you renegotiate the traumatic experience,
Note that much of the traumatic shock is experience in the body, by the nervous system. The point here is that this is not merely psychological stress we are talking about. The psychological stress is intricately enmeshed with our neurophysiology!
Why is working with the threat response the key to recovery?
In short, on some level the threat response has not completed. By allowing it to complete, the body is able to move from the past experience into the present, where there is not threat and internal safety can be accessed. This approach addresses the implicit neuro-physiological experience of danger and invites a move towards safety.
What happens during the treatment sessions?
The treatment sessions involve me employing the soft touch of craniosacral therapy while working with the knowledge and techniques of Somatic Experiencing.
During the 1st session, I will assess your body’s overall experience of threat, including areas of pain, bracing and other body-based symptoms. During this session the focus is on sensing in the body and orienting to both me and the treatment as safe. I will also ask you to explain the changes you feel in your body while on the treatment table. This process is designed to allow your body to start to orient towards safety, and to be able to register somatic changes. This makes it much easier to process the experience in future sessions.
From the 2nd session on, we will be exploring what is happening in your body now, and what was happening in your body at the time of the injury. Again, I will use a blend of craniosacral touch and Somatic Experiencing to help your body tell its story, find the areas of activation/charge, and safely find completion.